Three Movies Based on the Most Shocking True Stories

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As the saying goes, fact can often be stranger than fiction, and this is never truer than with regards to the real-life stories that these three movies were based on. Ranging from ghostly tales to youthful conmen, to military experiments into psychic abilities, this carefully curated selection of cinema adaptations didn’t have to deviate far from their source material in order to create some truly compelling watching.  

The Men Who Stare at Goats (2011)

There are many people in the world who do not doubt the veracity of psychic powers and inexplicable phenomena. Indeed, as anyone who has ever lost a loved one or lacked direction can attest, visiting a medium can be incredibly cathartic, with the accuracy of readers sometimes being impossible to explain away. For this reason, sites like TheCircle have sprung up, offering access to dozens of different clairvoyants for those who would like to indulge in a free psychic chat.

Among the open-minded are, perhaps surprisingly, members of the US military, who – as it so happens – have carried out many different experiments into the existence of psychic abilities. It was these real-life studies that inspired a 2004 book titled The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was adapted into a 2011 film of the same name.  

While not everything that happens in the movie is entirely accurate, it is all based on real events, with George Clooney’s character, Lyn Cassady, being an amalgam of several psychic spies employed by the military. While watching the film can feel akin to stepping down a rabbit hole, we can nonetheless confirm that experiments on weaponizing psychic powers have indeed taken place, and that some of these also involved goats!

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Catch Me If You Can was one of the films that made Leonardo DiCaprio a standout star. Telling the tale of youthful Frank Abagnale Jr, it follows its main character from his troubled teenage years through to his incredibly successful career as a conman.

It’s not only DiCaprio who delivers on the talent front, of course: so too does Tom Hanks, as the FBI agent tailing Abagnale Jr, and Christopher Walken as his father. However, the real MVP has to be the authentic Frank, whose incredible exploits inspired the material you see onscreen.

Without giving too much away, some of the scams depicted in the movie are so genius that it’s nigh-on impossible to believe that they actually happened, but they’re very much true. Even more unbelievably, the film became such a big hit, that the real Abagnale Jr grew rich on the film rights and even had a two-hour-long musical made about his escapades.  

The Conjuring (2013)

While we’ve listed 2013’s The Conjuring in our heading, this section of our article is actually going to focus on the franchise as a whole, for all of the films belonging within it are based on real (and terrifying) events.

That’s right – as well as The Conjuring and its sequels, both Annabelle and The Nun are based on documented stories of real-life happenings, which is enough to give anyone nightmares. While artistic license was most certainly exercised, with the genuine Annabelle being a slightly less scary looking doll than her movie counterpart, it gives us the creeps to think that any of what happened onscreen could be true.

According to reports, however, it is, with the original 2013 film basing its story on the accounts of paranormal hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren. In fact, if their claims are to be believed, what we saw in the cinema really doesn’t deviate all that much from what actually happened.    

Which of these films were you most surprised to find included on this list?

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